Modi forced to turn back after farmers block road in Punjab, Centre terms it 'security lapse'

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday cancelled his visit to  Ferozepur in Punjab where he was scheduled to lay the foundation stones for several projects worth over Rs 42,000 crore.

The farmers blocked the road on which the PM was travelling from Bathinda to Ferozepur. His cavalcade got stuck for 15-20 minutes on a flyover, some 30 kilometres away from Hussainiwala near Ferozepur and had to turn back. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs has described the event as a “major security lapse” and sought a detailed report from the state government.

Sources said that Modi had landed at Bhaisiana Air Force station in Bathinda and was scheduled to visit National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala near Ferozepur in a helicopter. But due to rain and poor visibility, his helicopter could not take off. Modi waited for about 20 minutes at the airport for the weather to clear. As the weather did not improve, it was decided that he would travel by road and first go to the memorial and then lay foundation stones of the projects and later address a rally.

Security breach in PM Narendra Modi’s convoy near Punjab’s Hussainiwala in Ferozepur district. The PM’s convoy was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes.
— ANI (@ANI) January 5, 2022
Sources said at Hussainiwala near Ferozepur, the farmers laid a blockade. When the PM’s convoy reached a flyover, it stopped and got stuck there for 15-20 minutes as the road was blocked. Modi’s cavalcade and turned back and left for Bathinda.

“PM Modi went by road from Bathinda after confirmation of security arrangements by the Punjab Police. This was a major lapse in the PM’s security. His schedule and travel plan were communicated well in advance to the Punjab Government,” said a senior official, adding that the state government was supposed to make necessary logistic and security arrangements besides keeping a contingency plan ready.

Taking cognisance of this security lapse, the Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a detailed report from the state government and asked it to fix responsibility for the lapse and take strict action.

The farmers have been opposing PM Modi’s visit to the state. This was Modi’s first visit to the state in two years.

Meanwhile, BJP national president JP Nadda slammed the Punjab Government. “Fearing a resounding defeat at the hands of the electorates, the Congress Government in Punjab tried all possible tricks to scuttle the Prime Minister,” Nadda tweeted.

Former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh demanded President Rule be imposed in Punjab. “If you cannot secure your PM, what kind of state government is it. The government should be dismissed and President’s Rule be imposed,” he said.

Earlier, farmers stopped BJP workers and supporters who were going to attend the PM’s rally at two places — near Amritsar at a toll plaza and near Taran Taran. 

The saffron party accused the Punjab Police of stopping buses that were carrying party workers to the PM’s rally. Meanwhile, addressing the rally, former CM Amarinder Singh, BJP state president Ashwani Sharma accused the state government of creating blockades and stopping BJP workers from reaching the rally venue.